When is it permissible to kill non-Jews? The book Torat ha-Melekh [The King’s Teaching—INT], which was just published, was written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, the dean of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in the community of Yitzhar near Nablus, together with another rabbi from the yeshiva, Yossi Elitzur. The book contains no fewer than 230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guide for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.
Although the book is not being distributed by the leading book companies, it has already received warm recommendations from right-wing elements, including recommendations from important rabbis such as Yitzhak Ginsburg, Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef.
The rabbis write as follows: “Hindrances—babies are found many times in this situation. They block the way to rescue by their presence and do so completely by force. Nevertheless, they may be killed because their presence aids murder. There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”
In addition, the children of the leader may be harmed in order to apply pressure to him. If attacking the children of a wicked ruler will influence him not to behave wickedly, they may be harmed. “It is better to kill the pursuers than to kill others,” the authors state.
In a chapter entitled “Deliberate harm to innocents,” the book explains that war is directed mainly against the pursuers, but those who belong to the enemy nation are also considered the enemy because they are assisting murderers.
Retaliation also has a place and purpose in this book by Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur. “In order to defeat the enemy, we must behave toward them in a spirit of retaliation and measure for measure,” they state. “Retaliation is absolutely necessary in order to render such wickedness not worthwhile. Therefore, sometimes we do cruel deeds in order to create the proper balance of terror.”
In one of the footnotes, the two rabbis write in such a way that appears to permit individuals to act on their own, outside of any decision by the government or the army.
“A decision by the nation is not necessary to permit shedding the blood of the evil kingdom,” the rabbis write. “Even individuals from the nation being attacked may harm them.”